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Islanders searching for offensive spark

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 2:14 PM

By Staff -  / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Islanders searching for offensive spark

The New York Islanders enter their game Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning in search of offense they hope will end a 3-14-3 slide that's landed them at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

Out of the 16 goals the Islanders have scored in their past 11 games (1-7-3), 11 are from the top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The second unit of Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey is struggling. Grabner has no goals in 30 straight games. Nielsen has none in his past 12 after scoring 10 in his first 22. Bailey hasn't scored in 23 games.

Coach Jack Capuano kept his lines intact during the morning skate. Ryan Strome, who will play in his second NHL game, will center the Islanders' third line. Strome was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League last week after leading the AHL in points (33) and assists (24) with the idea that he'll add scoring punch. Although he went scoreless Saturday in his debut, Strome believes that it's a matter of time before the goals begin to arrive.

"There's many other things you can do to impact a game," Strome told "The best players, even when they're not scoring, are doing something else. There's a lot of guys in this dressing room right now that really want that, but it's gonna come. You can't stress yourself out.

"I just want to stay strong in my own end. Obviously, the coaches preach that a lot here -- your battle level and compete level. In order to stay here, I've gotta show I can play both ends of the ice and be responsible, but I also have to start to produce."

The Islanders are 10-2-0 against the Lightning at Nassau Coliseum since 2007-08 while outscoring them 20-8. It's one reason why Tampa Bay isn't looking past New York despite its struggles.

"They're much better than their record," Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said. "For some reason, they are where they are, but not a team you can take lightly."

Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal for the Islanders. Nabokov stopped 24 of 25 shots in an overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday in his return from a groin injury. The Lightning will counter with Ben Bishop, who earned his third shutout of the season Sunday and is tied for second in the League with 17 wins.

Here are the projected lines for the Islanders and Lightning:


Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonMartin St. Louis

Alex KillornValtteri FilppulaTeddy Purcell

J.T. BrownNate ThompsonNikita Kucherov

B.J. CrombeenPierre-Cedric LabrieRichard Panik

Eric BrewerAndrej Sustr

Matt CarleRadko Gudas

Sami SaloMatt Taormina

Ben Bishop

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Dana Tyrell

Injured: Brian Lee (knee surgery), Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone), Steven Stamkos (right tibia surgery), Ryan Malone (broken ankle), Keith Aulie (hand surgery), Victor Hedman (lower body)


Thomas VanekJohn TavaresKyle Okposo

Michael GrabnerFrans NielsenJosh Bailey

Brock NelsonRyan StromeCal Clutterbuck

Matt MartinPeter ReginEric Boulton

Andrew MacDonaldThomas Hickey

Travis HamonicCalvin de Haan

Aaron NessBrian Strait

Evgeni Nabokov

Kevin Poulin

Scratched: Colin McDonald, Matt Carkner

Injured: Casey Cizikas (bruised jaw), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion), Radek Martinek (back)

Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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